This Week In History: June 25- July 1


This week in history: The Irish Civil War begins, T.Edison records classical music, and blood is shed in Gettysburg, PA. Read more below and dive deeper with The Great Courses Plus.

June 28, 1922 – The Irish Civil War Begins

Following the Irish War of Independence, the Irish Civil War would begin on this day in 1922. The two opposing factions -the Irish Republicans and the Irish Nationalists- would clash over the terms of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, which was signed the previous year in 1921. Though the treaty was originally intended to create a self-governing Irish state as well as allow what is now Northern Ireland to remain in the United Kingdom, it instead decreed that the Irish Free State would still be under indirect dominion of the British government (similar to Canada and Australia). Dissatisfied with this, the Irish Republicans turned on Northern Ireland and a bloody civil war ensued for the next year. The war would claim more casualties than the War of Independence before it, and would create a deep divide between the two factions that would last for decades.

Learn more about the Irish Civil War in The Irish Identity: Independence, History, and Literature

June 29, 1888 – First (Known) Recording of Classical Music Made

The first known recording of music took place today in 1888, when Thomas Edison managed to record Handel’s Israel in Egypt using an improved version of his phonograph. Recorded on the newly-developed wax cylinder, each cylinder could record between 2 to 3 minutes of sound that could then be played back. These cylinders would be made commercially available the following year in 1889, though its earliest customers were either wealthy or business owners; the phonograph was prohibitively expensive for the average person, and it would not be until the 1890s when more affordable phonographs would begin to be produced. Many examples of these early recordings still exist and can be listened to online.

Learn more about the phonograph and other important inventions in Understanding the Inventions that Changed the World

July 1, 1863 – The Battle of Gettysburg

One of the most infamous battles of the American Civil War, the battle at Gettysburg would mark a major turning point in the conflict. General Robert E. Lee, in an attempt to move the fighting out of war-torn Virginia and invade the North, marched his army into Pennsylvania. Union and Confederate forces collided in the small town of Gettysburg on this day in 1863, beginning a battle that would last only three days but result in the largest loss of life on American soil to this date; casualties from both sides are estimated to be between 46,000 and 51,000. Following the disastrous Pickett’s Charge, the Confederacy would be defeated and retreat south, thus beginning the series of Union victories that would eventually lead to Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse in 1865.

Learn more about Gettysburg and other Civil War history in The American Civil War